I am a Hypocritical Reader

Why I’d rather not read what you’re reading.

Two of my bookshelves custom built by my husband in our home library.

I admit it. I am a book hypocrite. It is part of my job and my personality to recommend books. I am a librarian by day and a writer by the light of candle..and all the rest of the time. I will, as part of my job, recommend best sellers. However, I usually don’t read them. There are exceptions, I recently read a current best seller and was not completely disappointed. It was a fresh idea which is hard to come by these days. Nothing new under the sun and all that. Not that her idea was new it was just different. It is difficult to determine a “good book”. What is good to you may not be good to me. Book advisory is subjective not science. Humans like different things.

Every day people come into the library looking for the latest book by Mr/Ms Bestseller. You know the author I am talking about. The one who published a book every few months. I wonder often if that author ever sleeps or eats. The books all start sounding similar in plot and theme. Must be the sleep deprivation. The only thing that changes is the details, the who what when and where of the same plot over and over and over. Occasionally there is a new plot. I instantly think, ghostwriter.

When I notice that a book is not staying on the shelf and there is a waiting list for it, I start asking why. People usually say things like, “I can’t put it down.” OK, I get that but why? Why can’t you put it down? What makes a book good?

If you read what everyone else is reading, you are going to get some positive reinforcement when you talk to your friends about your latest reading adventure. Maybe they’ve read it, too or at least they’ve heard of it. You’ll seem hip and in the know.


If you read what everyone else reads. You are you’re going to start to think like everyone else. If you think like everyone else, you’re not going to think differently and creatively.

What a horrible way to be….Think out of the box…I hate that cliche. How about deploying divergent thinking…that’s better…

By reading mostly best sellers and not giving the lowly debut novels, stand alones, interesting genres and indie authors a chance, you risk thinking patterns that are convergent, uncreative, the inability to be unique, fruitlessness and unoriginal.

You stifle your brain.

I know, I hear you… “But Author X is my favorite” and “I have to finish this series, I am in for fourteen books already.” …stop…please…

Another one of my shelves.

I am not suggesting that you never read your favorite authors or books. Just give reading a new thing a go…open your mind to other possibilities. I challenge you to…

Read out of your normal go to genre. If you read mysteries, read a romance instead. My favorite genres are contemporary fiction, high fantasy, and memoirs by average people. Right now I am reading horror. Not in my comfort zone at all.

Try an indie or self published author. You will be surprised at the quality of writing that is out there by authors who are not yet widely known. I love to find a unique voice I haven’t met in an author before. It is like finding a hidden treasure before anyone else.

Ask your friends who they read and try reading that author too. This is tricky. If you hate your best friend’s favorite author, you may have to endure the knowledge that you aren’t as compatible as friends as you thought.

Set a reading goal, like three new genres or authors each month or 10 new authors a year. I use Goodreads to chart reading goals for a year. If you don’t use Goodreads, you should.

Whatever you decide, here’s my best advice, read what you like, but take a risk every now and again. If you read it and hate it, then throw it out the front door. No tossing a library book please, they don’t like it.

Believe in divergent thinking, read outside of your comfort zone.

~Lori O’Gara

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